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Jessica Vonderau

Children & Nature

Posted by on 3/4/13 at 03:41pm

A few of us LF’ers recently had the opportunity to listen to journalist and author, Richard Louv speak at a luncheon for the San Antonio Children’s Museum project, which Lake|Flato is extremely proud to be designing. To foster natural play, the Museum will encourage outdoor learning through the use of streams, bioswales, and sand exhibits.

I have admired Louv’s book “Last Child in the Woods” and research concerning human’s inherent connection to nature and children’s lack of outdoor experiences. Louv’s hypothesis claims that children are spending less time outdoors resulting in a large range of behavior problems, a term he coined ‘nature deficit disorder.’ More than ever, children have less time for outdoor play due to busy schedules, less open space, safety fears, and temptations of digital games & web time. Accordingly, less time spent outdoors can create feelings of limited respect for the natural outdoors and environment. Many studies show a link to children’s mental growth and stability when they spend time outdoors.

Children in Nature

This recent talk got me reminiscing once more of my childhood and adolescence and the many memories I have of playing, experimenting, and imagining with nature all around. Like Louv, I believe these early years of spending time outdoors- making mud pies, building treehouses, swinging on birch trees in the front yard, digging weeds from the garden, watching a spider form an intricate web, and planting petunias alongside my mother- were extremely impactful experiences that set an initial trajectory for my deep appreciation of the natural and built world.

Nearly everyone has a special memory (or memories!) of spending time in nature that gives them feelings of joy to recall. I can only hope that these experiences are not lost for our future generations. As designers, parents, teachers, and mentors I hope we can foster our children’s experiences with the outdoors so that they too may share in the beauty of nature.

Children in Nature

 

For more information: Richard LouvChildren & Nature, Outdoor Nation,  Project Wild Thing